A Craigavon man who was caught transporting a World War One handgun has been jailed for four years.
In jailing 36-year-old Kieran Collins at Belfast Crown Court, Judge Stephen Fowler QC said that because Collins posed such a serious risk to the public, he was imposing an extended licence sentence.
He told Collins that when he has served two years in jail, it would be a decision for the parole commissioners whether it was safe to release him and under what conditions, adding that when released, he would be on supervised licence for a further three years.
He had earlier heard how police had been tracking a Vauxhall Corsa and a Citreon Saxo as they travelled from the border to Portadown on September 20 last year.
Collins, from Drumbeg, Tullygally, was driving the Corsa when it was stopped on the Silverwood Road and when it was searched, officers uncovered a WWI Mauser semi automatic pistol under the back seat.
Arrested and interviewed Collins refused to answer police questions including whether or not he was carrying the gun “for the Continuity IRA” or if he was their “fall guy”.
Last month however Collins pleaded guilty to having the gun under suspicious circumstances.
Despite its age, Judge Fowler said the potentially lethal gun was in a “fair to good condition” and due to the presence of residue in the barrel, it had clearly been fired previously.
In assessing the potential danger Collins poses, the judge revealed that he has convictions for causing a bomb hoax, arson, hijacking and taking photographs in court on his record, adding that in his view, there has been an “escalation” in his level of criminality in recent years.
“The defendant is someone who is prepared to involve himself in confrontation, bravado and violence to frighten and intimidate,” said Judge Fowler, adding that taken together with his having a gun, “the defendant does present a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public in the future.”